Toronto Public Health vice-chair questions city’s COVID-19 policy
I’ve been wanting to write about the issue of Toronto’s COVID-19 policy for a while. Since March I’ve been following the number of cases in each community and reporting back to you on what was happening. Today I had the pleasure of meeting with the vice-chair of the Toronto Public Health department, Margaret Horsfield. We had a productive meeting in which she gave me her insight and advice.
As of April 1, when she took over her role as chairperson, the number of cases increased by over 300,000 people. The number of people in hospital has also risen by about 1000.
In terms of planning, the city has had a public-health officer, two-year term, since May 2018. A new public- health officer, who was an acting deputy vice-chair, came on board in February. Since then she had been working part-time. In November, the deputy vice-chair left the city, taking two years out of his/her current role as director of community public-health services for Toronto Public Health.
If there’s ever a major public health emergency (such as a pandemic, health-care crisis, etc.) the city doesn’t need to have a public-health officer in the role for two years. It needs to be a new public- health officer that is coming in when the crisis hits. The public-health officer needs to be ready to deal with the crisis, but in order to deal with the crisis the public-health officer needs to be ready for whatever the crisis requires.
She also mentioned how important it is to have a public- health officer because they have some of the most complex decisions and roles in public health. Public health is so much more than just about planning and dealing with infectious diseases.
With all the challenges that we are seeing and the way in which we’re dealing with it, public health is a very complex role. And public health is about working with agencies and community health partners to understand what the challenges are